Wednesday, July 31, 2019

My Favourite and Thinking Royal

I was not merely overjoyed but a little astonished to read the reporting of Prince Harry's Vogue interview where many topics were discussed including family size.

The British Royal family have long been leaders in the Arms Race to overpopulate the planet, but Harry's remark strikes to the core of my being in the following way.

Just because you can, does not mean that you should

It is a mantra that I hear myself repeating to myself when I myself consider a course of action that will be perhaps enjoyable but ultimately environmentally reckless.

Not Only But Also

And then, on the same day I read the above article on Unconscious Bias

I want to say from my heart & my experience,   I concur absolutely with both these lines of thought.  I am in awe of Prince Harry for being so clear and forthright in his statements.

Future King material you surely are.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Remote Portable Office

It started as a indulgent thought, but the more that Marcus thought about it I realised that in our new home from home I was distinctly uncomfortable about the lack of a Home Office.

Would it be so terribly wrong and extravagant to create one?

Simply Urgent

As I pondered, the more urgent it seemed to become.  And so on Monday, July 29th I capitulated and headed to IKEA.  This then is what I decided on for a temporary home office.   And the materials were chosen not only for absolute economy, but also because they will dismantle easily and will be used at our next remote gig ...

- Mikrotik hAP ac2 router

I've fully integrated this router into my home from home Internet connection.  In doing so, it is preloaded with my UK home WiFi networks and base security.  So Marcus and Agata's laptops, smartwatches, GPS computers and other paraphernalia still connect as usual without any reprogramming and all traffic to our devices may be logged and analysed

And when I get the time I have time to further play with this amazing Mikrotik device.

I did not get the cheapest one (white) as the wood stained one looks so much better, and well, I'll be spending hours typing at this table.  There is a smaller and larger one, this 120x60cm is large enough to get a decent screen and keyboard onto, or in my case a laptop and secondary screen.  Any larger and it might start to be difficult to transport around. 

- IKEA Lerberg Trestle

These 2 trestles were chosen as then the table just sits on them.  It's cheaper to buy 4 legs but they screw in, and that is probably supposed to be a one time operation.  If you want to move the table to a new location you need to disassemble it first and the Trestle make this a repeatable 30 second job.

- IKEA Fixa Toolkit
We actually gave our previous 2 iterations away to needy friends.  Time to repurchase.  This give us the basics.

- Anker USB Powerport Speed 5

5 ports, 60W including a USB-C Power Delivery Port.  Perfect to charge our gadgets away from the home.  In fact this is taken from our Cave in England,  the one that normally charges all our Cycling lights and computers.

For almost 4 years now this is a constant companion when I am away and want to approximately double my screen real estate.   Works so well!

- HP Spectre x360 Convertible

My trusty, still quite capably fast Intel Laptop.  4K touch screen is included.

- Trekz Air Headphones

I'm not just using these excellent wireless Bluetooth headphones for Running and local races.  I also pair them to my laptop or Smartphone during the evening so that I can listen to content without disturbing Agata.  Highly recommended.

- Fujistu IX100 Scanner

It's very small, USB powered  (say from the laptop) uses the same  (mediocre) software as its bigger IX500 brother but scans brilliantly. This device allows all receipts to be scanned locally so you don't have to carry them all back home later, something that does not work in practice.  Absolutely invaluable.

Sitting Back
The cost of my race to IKEA to purchase this table and extras was less than 60 GBP.  Combined with the entourage of kit already brought means I now have a baseline mobile study work environment.  Absolutely worth it.  Feeling more relaxed already.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Review: Alfa AWUS036ACH Dual Band USB Adaptor AC1200

This is a short and positive review of the Alfa  AWUS036ACH external USB connected WiFi modem.

Penetration Testing It is capable of both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz and in a nutshell if you want to perform penetration testing of your WiFi network this is a good place to start.  Why?  Because this adapter has specific Linux drivers that enable Monitor Mode and Packet Injection.

Let's Review

A low cost but capable Penetration testing rig I would recommend is

- A Raspberry Pi 3 B+   (not the Pi 4, too many issues on 20190729, not just power )

- Loaded with Kali Linux.  I'd suggest this Youtube Tutorial and also subscribing and watching the Null Byte channel

- Of course it's always good to have a Mikrotik Router.  If you can't afford the RB4011iGS+RM  then a hAP Ac2 is a good starting point

- The Alfa AWUS036ACH Dual Band USB Adaptor AC1200 is the final link in the chain.  it is less than 50 GBP including postage

Not the Best Performance

Let me be clear.  I would not recommend this Modem for performance.  But, for long range Wifi detection and with Linux drivers with monitor mode it is up there with the best

 Speed Tests from a Raspberry Pi 3B+

Test from a dedicated UNIX server  Intel

To compare I had the brainwave to download the native Windows btest.exe, start up my Mikrotik with the native BTEST server, authentication off, and then try my local HP Spectre Laptop WiFi bandwidth as a client system running btest.exe

You will see that my WiFi adapter on this 2018 laptop easily outperforms the Alfa, but it does not have the Linux support.  Repeat: You are not buying this modem for speed!


A capable and sensitive modem with specific Linux support.  Perfect for us security minded individuals running Kali Linux doing penetration testing.  Under 50 GBP.  What is not to like.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

European Heatwave

Subtitle: Come on London!

People in London love to think they have the best everything.  From Museums, to History and now it seems the most extreme weather.

Whilst it is true that the weather in London England recently peaked at 37 degrees C, Londoners should know that at the same time throughout most of France, i.e. not just one city the temperature was 42 degrees C.  I know I was there.

And similarly in our old home town of Lausanne Switzerland, the weather during the Summer of 2019 regularly exceeds 25 degrees C and is often close to 30 degrees C, temperatures that London gets once in a decade.

Still I have to appreciate the humour of Londoners, so follow the link and smile, just remember it is typical Londoner over-reaction

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Saturday Sermon: Catholic

I hope I have drawn you in using the above graphic.  But actually I need you help.

It concerns Neil Carter, of whom I have spoken of less than one month ago

Neil has been very productive and added to the list of videos on his channel.  At the time of writing he just notced up episode 11, and it is still an astonishingly clear exposition and refutation of his Christian past.

I can't think of a single Atheist channel, no not one, that go thru and dissects why Christianity now fails to make sense for those who mindfully explore the Religion that they grew up with.  In this connection I'm asking reader who are still of the Christian persuasion to please start to watch and contemplate his excellent works ...

01 Why I broke up with Jesus

02 The two main reasons I left

03 Our Biggest Mistake

04 Leaving Religion was nothing like entering it

05 What I gained when I Left

06 What I lost when I lost my Faith

07 How Christianity teach you to Hate Yourself

08 How Faith breaks your Thinker

09 How Faith breaks your Feeler

10 Why Smart People believe nonsense

11 The absurdity of the Perfect Bible

Friday, July 26, 2019

Englands Third World Road Network

At no point in this discussion can I bear myself to produce any photographs to document the appallingly bad state of British roads which Marcus and Agata have been absent from  over 15 years.

Instead I will picture roads from our neighbours in France and Switzerland which we have recently experienced.

First,  Second and Third Worlds
My contention is that after over 15 years away from the British road network things have not in any way improved.  If I rate the Swiss road network as #1, and the French (or mainland Europe) as #2, then England/ Britain now ranks as #3, yes the Third World

Come On Boris
Boris Johnson is the new British PrimeMinister having replaced Theresa May.   Special Interest groups countrywide now lobby for additional funds for their concern.

I'd like to ask Boris to devote significant extra funds to the UK road network

- It's been in decline for over a decade as Local Government persistently neglect it, they would argue they have to prioritise funds towards people services instead

- Existing roads are patched and not resurfaced

- In our home UK county of Warwickshire the best patching is throwing down tar, then some sharp stones, and brushing away the unstuck debris after some weeks

- This leaves a sharp, uneven surface, even less cycle-able on, and does little to fix the increase prevalence of potholes.

In England we now know of the expressions

Half an hour from anywhere

An hour from Somewhere

This two often used phrases sum up living in the English countryside.  We no longer live on the edge of a town  (Lausanne) and so we need to make greater use of our car.

On narrow roads with deep potholes, or broken surface on road edges, it can literally be a matter of having to stop when any approaching 4x4 looms into view.  Either that or break your suspension.  No joke.

Let's look at France

 A small aside at our favourite Petrol station at Calais.   They build a solid concrete wall.   Their Infrastructure spending on roads and environment is bloody huge.  (Not what can we get away with, the English way)


Perfect no potholes

Google actually renamed this with the high volume of British people travelling here

km after km of pristine motorway.  And aire rest points every 20km or so.  Where there is always a picnic area, car park and toilet.

 Burnout due to high Temperatures, but services are around

Temperatures at 42 degrees C

 We have recently driven over 1000 km in Central Europe at temperatures upto a sustained 42 degrees C.  Really hot.  We saw fires,  a lorry tyre explosion, but never a potholed road.  Not, bloody one!   WTF!

People sometimes comment that the UK roads have to deal with more adverse climate.  This is total and utter bollocks!  French and Swiss roads cope with -10 degrees C  (or colder) upto 42 degrees C this year, a much greater range than the UK.  And their roads are almost perfect.

In the UK we never get close to this temperature variation.

More French Roads


 As we crossed in Switzerland the road / tyre noise diminished even further as the silky smooth Swiss roads took over.

In Summary

If Marcus and Agata did not have occasion to travel to France and Switzerland we might be blissfully unaware at how poor the UK roads are in relation.  But really the UK road network now approaches Third World status.

In many places drive-able with caution and extremely unsafe for cyclists.  It is a total bloody disgrace.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Reducing The Solution Set

On the left is my new standard  deodorant and on the right my previous standard.   To understand why this is significant read on.

Approximations, Categorisations and being Human

Before most of understand about Critical Thinking and Science 
we are pattern matching machines. I say most, because a minority can never understand (critical thinking) , and a larger set actively refuse to.   

From birth we see an entity with a behaviour and begin categorise it.

We might observe types of bird, and note that they are able to fly.   So when we next see a bird we know that it can fly away from us.

We also begin to take things on trust from those closest around us, normally our parents.   Suppose we had racist parents though, this could mean that without ever interacting with other races we come to the conclusion based on our parents guidance that our race is definitely superior.

We all develop these inbuilt rules and they help simplify our lives.   If we faced every day without a reliance on learnt experiences and actions about the world, every day would be too complex to continue.

Reducing the Solution Set

Another simplification that helps us simplify the world is habit.  It is why for years Marcus came to the conclusion that Adidas Deo Spray was delicious and there was no point in ever looking for something better.

I have an infinity of more worthwhile things that I can devote my time towards, for example: a better diet.   Having decided about my Deodorant (in this case) leaves me more time to devote to worthwhile other.

It is for reasons like this that City Gentlemen   (I was one) used to dress in a certain way.  Suits from a particular tailor, always shoes from Church, and always Cotton shirts from Marks and Spencer :-)     Reduction of complexity indeed

Anti Stagnation Options

Simplification and categorisation are necessary but can lead to stagnation in the long run.  And so to the point of this article.   What can you do to stay on top, or in my particular case fresh :-)

- If you are [very] rich you can pay experts to advise you in all aspects of life from grooming, clothing and fragrance.

- You can recognise friends with particular passions and expertise, and ask them to cross check and upgrade your choices periodically

- You can particularly argue converse with articulate friends who hold contrary life views, and ask them: well why?

- You can remind yourself to very occasionally experiment with anything and everything that you hold fixed.   This is what caused my recent deodorant upgrade

- Aside from friends you can consult the Internet with its many specialist resources, being careful to check for fake news and Logical Fallacies  

And So Yes  

I have a new defacto standard deodorant.  Whatever next?

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Upgrading the NVMe Array Very Carefully

Upgrading the Array

This is a positive story about the upgrade of my NVMe based storage array,  that is the highest storage tier on my workstation.

No Moving Parts
Trying to run a computer with minimum spinning parts has been a passion since before 1980.  Actually in 1980 I already had a swap-less UNIX computer system that ran entirely in RAM memory.

That early UNIX system did have floppy disk storage of course  (no hard drives until about 1983) but the mantra was already set.

Whenever possible: Do it in Solid State not Spinning Disk

In 2019

My computer storage hierarchy looks like this.  

- At the top level are some NVMe disks striped together into a 4GByte/second plus array.  This sits in a Windows Server environment with Virtual machines running on top of that platform.

- The NVMe array is flushed every 24 hours to a physical disk set

- That Data Disk set is then sent to ...

a) A variety of 3 different cloud providers. Although, living in slow (sub Gigabit upload rate) England only the smaller fraction is uploaded

b) The Data Disk feeds a NAS

c) NAS backups get exported to a local disk which is updated and kept with a friend

d) The data disk also makes full mirror backups to external disks which are taken out of country.

The consequences are:  SCREW UP your NVMe array and it percolates down and poisons all of your backups.

The NVMe array already contains over 80 years worth of photographs.   Several Terabytes.  Literally thousands of hours of my work,  scanning analog photographs, from that time before digital. If it was lost, or in any way corrupted, well, I would be more than upset

The Careful Upgrade

Existing Position,  NVMe array is 3.64TB usable

 Online I can see the new disk and add it online

 Great the Array is now 4.54TB

 Shall we extend the Array and then everything is ...

 Ah wait, you see once the Virtual disk is created in the Storage Pool it can't be enlarged

So we will have to delete it all first .   Damn!

 So not unreasonably you can't delete the Virtual disk until the underlying (in this case) NTFS volume is first deleted.

 Deleting the cache X: drive

 What is this critical system partition?

It turns out that I had placed a token (never to be used one hopes) Paging file on the drive to be deleted.

 Move the Paging file to the C: drive and reboot, then delete the X: using Disk Management.  It is gone!

The Backups I Made

In addition to making sure all the usual offsite and NAS backups had completed, I made 2 extra full backups using the ancient product Total Commander

TC has the advantage of copying files  (when configured) with the correct creation date and time from the original.  Windows and many other programs lose this information.


 NTFS not ReFS must be selected otherwise Dropbox cannot reside here, and it should because by definition this is the fastest storage tier on the system.

Oops DropBox

On restart of Dropbox it decided that the empty directory on the workstation meant it should therefore cascade delete every file on Dropbox everywhere!

Dropbox does have a 30 day restore, but of course it gets the file and directory dates wrong :-(    So I had to restore these files from a backup

Some Checking

After some hours of manual checking, at random.  I ran the SyncBackPro program in Simulation to see what files it thought were more upto-date on the new NVMe array.  I had made a few photo uploads that day and so I was delighted to see that these few files were more upto-date on the source NVMe array.  

It worked then!

The Array is now 1TB larger and all the original data is restored.

I can rest easily again.

Until the next upgrade :-)